Category Archives: Fusion

Waku Ghin’s signature sea urchin with botan shrimp and Oscietre caviar

Tetsuya Wakuda is one of my favourite chefs from my visits to Tetsuya’s in Sydney – back in Rozelle and also when it moved to Kent Street. I have always admired his ability to pair pure and distinct flavours so beautifully. I finally got to go to Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands this week, and what a treat it was.

Your meal is served primarily in small 8-seater rooms in front of a teppanyaki grill and with your personal chef for the evening. Counter seating is always my preference – it gives you an opportunity to talk to the chef, see the produce, watch him cook, and also sneakily take a peek at what others are ordering to inspire you to try new things.

With a set 10-course degustation menu, you don’t get the chance to do the latter, but we did get a preview of the first course from the other couple who were seated in our room and who had arrived before us. By the third course, the team at Tetsuya had deftly managed to catch the four of us up so we were all served the remaining savoury courses at the same time.

Chilled white asparagus soup with white miso and Oscietre caviar

We started with a chilled cream of white asparagus soup with white miso cream and Oscietre caviar. What a way to start a meal. The soup was so silky and so full of flavour of the delicate white asparagus you really wished there was more (that was the common theme for all the dishes during the evening, actually).

Second was Waku Ghin’s signature dish – marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietre caviar, stunningly presented in a half shell of sea urchin. To be eaten with a mother-of-pearl spoon, you are recommended to eat every mouthful with a bit of all three, and with each you get the sweetness of the prawn and sea urchin and the explosion of saltiness from the caviar. This has got to be up there as one of my favourite dishes ever.

Slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant

Third course was slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant and a chicken stock reduction. Our chef explained to us how they made the chicken stock and the laborious and complex processes to ensure only the clean flavour of the chicken was extracted and reduced. An odd pairing with fish and eggplant, and I think the chicken stock reduction tied the dish together well.

Australian abalone with fregola, rocket, seaweed and tomato

Next up was fresh Australian abalone, simply seared on the teppan and served with fregola, tomato, rocket and seaweed. This was about as rare as I have ever had abalone, miles away from the more chewy abalone you usually get at Chinese banquets. This was fresh and succulent and sweet and presented in this way almost was like eating it straight from the sea.

Braised Canadian lobster with tarragon

Braised Canadian lobster came next, quintessentially French-style, in a stock made from the lobster shells, finished with butter and tarragon. Again, the lobster was cooked so that it was just to the point past being raw, allowing the sweetness and the tenderness of the lobster to shine.

The beautifully marbled Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll

Two beef dishes followed. The first was charcoal grilled fillet of Tasmanian grass-fed  beef with Tetsuya’s own-brand wasabi mustard. The chef seared these in front of us on the teppan before slicing them into bite-sized pieces of beef so tender you felt that you could cut it with a butter knife. Nothing fancy here, just a fillet of beef on your plate and tasted great with or without the wasabi mustard.

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll with wasabi and citrus soy

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll from Shiga Prefecture came next. Just looking at the gorgeous marbling on the raw beef filled the room with oohs and aahs. I think it was because we knew that that marbling would be melt-in-the-mouth flavour once cooked. It was served with freshly-grated wasabi, fried garlic slices, thinly sliced Japanese negi and a citrus soy dipping sauce. Similar to the fillet, I tried the beef on its own and then with a little bit of all the condiments and in this instance, the inclusion of everything made the marvelous wagyu sing in your mouth.

Consommé with rice and snapper

Final savoury dish was a consommé with rice and snapper followed with a palate-cleansing cup of gyokuro, tea made from green tea that has been grown in the shade. A touch of yuzu zest to the consommé lifted the dish making it a clean and refreshing end to the meal. And the tea, which was brewed with water at just 40C had a distinct savoury, seaweed flavour. Absolutely perfect example of umami.

Selection of exquisite petit fours to end a perfect meal

We were almost sad to be moved out of our private dining area to a more traditional dining area to eat have our final two courses of dessert – mostly because it was an indication that the meal was coming to its end. I have to be totally honest and say that Tetsuya’s desserts have never wowed me the same way his savoury dishes do, and this was no different. We were served a cold soup of strawberry with lychee and coconut and what turned out to be my birthday cake, a milk chocolate cake with caramel and citrus. Both were delicious – as were the petit fours, but my memory of Waku Ghin is firmly, and happily, within the walls of the private dining room.

Waku Ghin
Casino Level 2
Access lifts located:
B1 & Opposite ArtBox at Level 1
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 8507

Open for lunch on Fridays 11.30am – 1.30pm
Dinner two seatings 6pm and 8.30pm


Pamplemousse Bistro + Bar

 Jamón Ibérico with figs and manchego cheese

Surely Singapore is reaching its saturation point for new places to eat with its tiny population ? The Dempsey Hill area alone seems to be continually expanding with new restaurants, bistros and bars, with Pamplemousse being one of the newer residents (it’s been open just over a year now).

My friend M and I went there to catch up a few weeks ago and decided to forgo the set lunch menu, instead opting for a few appetisers from their a la carte menu and a bottle of champagne. To be fair, in this instance the bubbles were more of a priority than the food.

We ordered the  Jamón Ibérico, homemade fresh goats cheese and the beef carpaccio.

The Jamón Ibérico was “draped” over figs and manchego cheese with some Frisé. I think they tried to get the same effect as using prosciutto but because this type of ham has been cured for longer it simply doesn’t drape as well, so in this instance rather than looking like the slices magically fell on to the plate, it ended up making the dish look quite sparse. Having said that, the ham was delicious with that uniquely intense saltiness that seems to get more intense as it melts in your mouth as you chew.

Fresh home made goat’s cheese with sliced beetroot

The goats cheese was a surprise for me.  I’m not a huge fan of goats cheese. That twanginess that makes it so appealing to most is the thing that I dislike about it. Pamplemousse serves their fresh homemade goats cheese with thin slices of fresh beetroot and there is only a subtle hint of that twang. That, for me, made it palateable but I would think someone who likes goats cheese might want something to taste a bit stronger ? Having said that, it was a light and fresh dish and was refreshing with the strips of beetroot, especially in the hot Singapore humidity.

Beef carpaccio with Chinese pears, quail’s egg yolk with a yuzu and sesame oil dressing

The beef carpaccio was served with dehydrated Chinese pears, a quail egg yolk (which my friend and I ate around) and a mesclun salad with a yuzu and sesame oil dressing. This dish to me captures what Pamplemousse tries to do – European dishes with an Asian twist. I like the idea, but I found their dishes to be a bit confused and instead of being a perfect fusion of east and west, ended up being a bit schizophrenic.

It’s not that Pamplemousse is not good, it’s just that there are so many places out there, that competition is fierce, and I need that wow factor to make me want to go back again.

Pamplemousse Bistro + Bar
7 Dempsey Road #01-04
Singapore
Tel: +65 6475 0080


the Disgruntled Chef

Signature crispy lamb short ribs

Tucked away in Dempsey Hill near PS Cafe lies the Disgruntled Chef, where Daniel Sia (formerly of the White Rabbit) has designed a menu that is meant for sharing. Small appetisers, tapas-style, followed by a few main course dishes. Absolutely perfect for D and I who want to try everything on offer.

The friendly staff go through the menu with you, highlighting the signature dishes of the house, of which we picked the crispy lamb short ribs, the crab cakes and the serrano ham, and then D spied the “snack menu” which had thick cut truffle fries and brioche with cheese and truffles. It sounded so much like the truffle sandwich from Procacci in Florence we simply had to try them as well.

The lamb short ribs are pretty awesome – they must be slow-braised so they are tender and then fried till crispy, and come served with a generous dusting of crushed chilli, cumin and coriander seeds, served on dollops of yoghurt. I don’t eat lamb (my family didn’t eat it so I never grew up with it and I don’t like the strong smell and taste it has) but even I had to try some.  The chef really nailed this dish – a true balance of textures and flavours and not “too lamby” at all (although for those who like lamb, that might be a downside).

Warm brioche with cheese and truffles

And the humble brioche with cheese and truffles ? Turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. The brioche is not too sweet and comes as a flat bun filled in the middle with cheese and truffles, which is then warmed to release the aroma of those truffles. Absolutely delicious.

Crackling suckling pig with crudites and clove and honey dip

For mains D and I tried the crackling suckling pig. I think having the word “crackling” in the description really does set very high expectations, and I think had they not done this, the dish would have been perfectly acceptable. Lovely tender meat with crispy skin that comes with a clove and honey dressing which had some acidity that helped to cut through the richness of the meat.

Would I rush back there again in a hurry ? I’m not really sure. There are just so many new casual dining restaurants springing up in Singapore that you really need to knock my socks off to lure me back again, but if you’ve not been, then make sure you try the lamb and the brioche.

The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road
Singapore 247693
Tel: +65 6476 5305
E: BOOKINGS@DISGRUNTLEDCHEF.COM

Open
Tues – Thurs – lunch 12pm – 2.30pm /dinner 6pm – 10.30pm
Friday & Saturday – lunch 12pm – 2.30pm/dinner 6pm – 11.30pm
Sunday brunch – 12pm – 4.30pm/dinner 6pm – 10.30pm
(closed Mondays)